Where are the storytellers in the RPF?

imgresI honestly cannot believe that we will be celebrating RPF-Inkotanyi’s Silver Jubilee tomorrow. I mean, I feel like it was only yesterday that I joined other members of the Rwandan refugee community in Toronto on October 1,to eat African food, dance and throw in a few measly dollars for the war effort; an effort I really didn’t understand.  I only knew that my uncles were fighting a war and they needed some money for clothing and medicine. I remember telling my father that I wanted the few dollars I donated to be used to buy bullets and guns, instead of medicine.

Thousand of us, young and old, made our nation’s liberation possible. At the forefront of this liberation, and the nations subsequent development, are the people I called the ‘Refugee Generation’. These men and women were at the vanguard of the movement in 1987, and they are still leading the way even today. But what was it about their shared experiences that made them such a powerful generation? Was it the poverty? The deprivation? The shame?

I know that all the offspring of the Refugee Generation have heard tales of their parents having to walk miles to school barefoot and having to 405377_10150560275838248_689018247_8994539_1236240180_nwork in the farms of the natives to feed their families back in the camps. A relative of mine, whenever he meets me, jokes that the only reason he isn’t taller is because of the heavy loads he had to carry on head stunted his growth. However, while the ‘loads’ stunted their physical growth, it also have them a steely resolve to improve their lots in life. They excelled in school, joined the work force, and when things became tough in the wintery conditions of the mountains, their earlier experiences instilled in them the ability to persevere.

I can only imagine that our leaders experiences in the camps, mountains, in the jungles of Congo formed their character, and their outlook on life. It is my belief that only people who’d suffered as much as they suffered could make the hard choices they’d made. Choices that are being validated by Rwanda’s and Rwandans place in the world. Which brings me to the crux of the issue I’d like to discuss.

An RPA solidier about to fire a 82mm motar infront of Chez Lando in Remera in 1994

An RPA solidier about to fire a 82mm motar infront of Chez Lando in Remera in 1994

The RPF of the last 25 years was borne out of the harsh realities of refugee life. The RPF of the next 25 years will be composed of Rwandans who’ve, hopefully, not seen the harshness of the Nyakivale and Kyaka II refugee camps.

The question I’ve been pondering the last couple of days is, will Rwanda be able to continue to move forward at such a breakneck speed with a new generation at the helm? Have we (I add myself to this generation) ‘suffered’ enough? Do we have the fire in our bellies? And if we don’t, will our parents and mentors pass on their own passion, and their life lessons, to us?

Young Americans can, with either a library card or Google, get thousands of books, images, film and other documents recounting the Civil Rights movement. They watch movies like Born on the Fourth of July and Apocalypse Now to see just how the Vietnam War affected the soldiers that fought in it.

Gen Sam Kaka of Alpha Mobile, Col Twahirwa Dodo of Bravo Mobile, Col Gashumba of Charlie Mobile and Col Musitu of the 21st Mobile getting decorated for their role in the war of National Liberation

Do we have such resources here? Nope.  In fact, I’ve found out that attempting to prying any kind of detailed information from my ‘Afande’ uncles about what they saw in Rwanda and their other theatres of combat, was an exercise in futility. And that is very unfortunate.

What I suggest is something that is ‘un-Rwandan’ in some peoples eyes. I urge everyone who can share their experiences to do so. It isn’t about ‘showing off’ or attempting to ‘take credit where it’s not due’. It’s about giving the next generation of leaders the historical context and foundation needed to make the right decisions, even when you are gone.

In my opinion, the RPF story did not start in 1994. Nor did it begin in 1987. It began in 1959 in the camps.  That story must be told to the next generation of RPF. For if we cannot remember our past, we will not be able to navigate the waters of our future.

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4 thoughts on “Where are the storytellers in the RPF?

  1. Dantès Singiza says:

    Some heroes have already started talking about their experience. Read: http://www.igihe.com/abantu/biographies/icyo-musare-faustin-avuga-ku-itariki-ya-1-ukwakira.html. Or watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXUWixeXSZA. Now, dear Sunny Ntayombya, the thing is…can you motivate your uncles to tell, if possible, to publish their experience? It’s not futile. It’s rather encouraging for us and informative for future generations. Have a good day!

  2. How happy is RPF without the following who started the mouvement? …
    Jacques Bihozagara
    Patric Mazimpaka
    Pasteur Bizimungu
    Kayumba Nyamwasa
    Jean Baptiste Ndahumba
    Theogene Rudasingwa
    James Rwego
    Gérard Gahima
    Bosco Rwiyamilira
    Patric Karegeya
    Arihe Rujugiro Tribert
    Pascal Munyampirwa
    Colonel Rugigana

    Why these heroes are not celebrated or told what led to their death?
    Fred Rwigema
    Kayitare
    Nduguteye
    Adam Waswa
    Seth Sendashonga
    Lizinde Theoneste
    Major Birasa
    Colonel Ngoga
    Colonel Rutayisire Wilson
    Asiel Kabera
    Mico Rwayitare
    Alexandre Kimenyi

    If you really know the history of RPF you should get answers to that or even ask yourself where those names are as 25 years is celebrated.

  3. rwanyonga says:

    story of liberation will be forgotten because mainly we do not have a writting culture, for thousands of years Rwanda transmit their stories orally and this culture of not reading and writting does not help the liberation story ……

    secondly, our focus on Sciences and Technology subjects at the expenses of literatures subjects in school …… normally these stories should be documented and written by history students at university level , by now those students should be writting research writting final paper on the story itself, from so many academic documents and sources one can write a detailed book 100 years from now about the struggle ……. in the normal world student of literature should right now be producing plays about the liberation study , poems , etc ……but there is no such thing as literature and history students in RWanda, those subject are highly discouraged. if you don’t know math and science you are deemed dumb….. every kid out there wants to be a engeneer, IT technologist that is the politics of today …..unfortunately , this policy is killing our identity our language few today know how to write decent Kinyarwanda , and it is also killing our history because by the time all the people who participated in that war pass away …..nothing will be left in detail about what they did , when i say detail it is not we attacked and took over a village …..no in detail include , when the battle started, who led the battle, how long it lasted, how many died, how many injured, how many people rescued , what guns used, what tactics , how many soldier participated , the aftermath ….stuff like that students in history faculty should be gathering by interviewing as many as they can ex-soldiers from both sides , to make a comprehensive story of what happen ……then again we don’t need a university program or research for that no no we want IT

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